In October 2012 my old pal and colleague Jonathan Valin waxed enthusiastically in these pages about AMG’s Viella 12 turntable and companion 12J2 tonearm, the first product releases from Bavaria’s Analog Manufaktur Germany.
Jon titled his review “A Statement Product For The Rest of Us,” and explained in his usual meticulous fashion how this relatively affordable record-playing combo (roughly $16k, give or take various cosmetic options), at the time the least expensive playback components in his annoyingly green-with-envy-inducing reference system—there, I finally got that off my chest!—was consistently able to make the finest recordings, as he simply put it, sound “real.”
Having worked with Mr. V for some 20-plus years now, when he makes that sort of statement I, for one, pay attention.
And so, when our Editor-in-Chief Robert Harley floated the idea of me reviewing AMG’s less pricey follow-up ’table, the Giro, with its own 9W2 ’arm ($10,000 for the package), who was I to refuse?
For those who may need a brief refresher on the company’s history, AMG was founded by a mechanical and aeronautical engineer, machinist, Lufthansa pilot, and audio buff named Werner Roeschlau, who one day decided to open his own state-of-the-art machining plant north of Munich. Before releasing designs under its own banner, AMG manufactured precision parts for other audio manufacturers, using the firm’s extensive array of CAD and CNC machines, along with “classic analog” tools such as lathes and drill presses.
AMG’s original factory was pretty small, especially given the scope of the firm’s ambition. So last year it opened a new and much larger facility, designed and built from the ground up, that allows for expanded growth and production capabilities as well as the ability to increase R&D. (A most impressive slideshow of the new space can be viewed on AMG’s website.) And in what is certainly another important step in AMG’s evolution, after many years spent working closely with his father, Julian Lorenzi was recently elevated to the role of AMG’s Managing Director. And it is Lorenzi who realized Roeschlau’s original vision of the Giro that I’m writing about today.
An elegantly simple and unusually interesting looking rig, the Giro consists of a circular plinth that, like the platter, has been CNC-machined from aircraft-grade aluminum. Similarities to the Viella include a slightly scaled down version of that model’s platter bearing—“a hydrodynamically lubricated radial 16mm axle with PFTE thrust pad and integral flywheel”—and the same high-mass stainless-steel pulley of the V12, coupled to a precision Swiss-made DC motor. The belt-driven one-piece POM platter features the decoupled spindle design of the Viella turntable and the same threaded reflex clamp.
The electronically controlled speed selection choices reside at the right side of the plinth, a pair of touch-sensitive lighted pads that glow red or green depending on the speed one has selected. Again, this is an elegantly simple solution that I mostly appreciated. I say “mostly” because, just like the iPhone’s sometimes pesky HOME button, the Giro’s controls do not always respond to one’s first fingertip touch, and I found myself sometimes needing to hold my digit in place for a few seconds before the speed changed, or when stopping the motor between side changes.